Leading a sustainable lifestyle may seem like a no brainer at first. We recycle, limit driving cars, opt out of plastic bags at the grocery store, and turn off the lights when we leave the room. We even buy green products when given a clear choice. Yet, there are still many things we do that surprisingly harm the environment.
Let’s go through a typical day of Mia, a young businesswoman in Geneva. Although Mia tries to live a green lifestyle, there are many things that just aren’t obvious red flags. Plus, like most of us, she is squeezed for time. Sometimes it’s just not possible to research the consequences of every small action we take.
So let’s take a look at a day in the life of Mia. I’m sure you can relate to these innocent mistakes. I know I can!
Mia wakes up at the crack of dawn to get ready for the day. Sleepy eyed, she washes her face with a bar of commercial soap. Little does she know that a typical bar of soap is full of toxic chemicals, including triclosan, BHT, isopropyl alcohol and methylisotiazolinone. This “soap” not only irritates the skin, but also is not the best for the nervous system. While Mia smells yummy from the artificial fragrance, her skin is far from nourished.
Instead, she could start her day with an eco-friendly, handmade soap, made from vegetable oils and plant essences.
All ready for work with not a minute to spare, Mia accidently spills a bit of her coffee on the kitchen counter. She quickly reaches for disposable cleaning cloths, and in a few swipes the coffee is all cleaned up. Problem solved, she thinks. Unfortunately, these seemingly innocent cloths are not biodegradable, and end up in our overflowing landfills.
A better alternative is using a microfiber cloth that can be washed regularly.
A few hours later, Mia is in need of another coffee. At the coffee machine, she takes a cappuccino, which is promptly prepared by the machine and served in a paper cup. Mia’s daily coffee fix is creating a lot of unnecessary waste.
It would be more sustainable to use a reusable mug.
Mia goes out with colleagues to a local sandwich shop for lunch. With her order, she grabs a few paper napkins. Seems harmless, yet paper napkins are actually not eco-friendly.
She might want to rethink those paper napkins next time, and bring along reusable organic cotton or hemp napkins instead.
At the gym Mia trades her heals in for some running shoes. Nothing is wrong with her shoes, but her socks are made from synthetic fabric.
Swap your clothing made from polyester, rayon, and nylon for organic cotton, hemp, linen, wool, or bamboo clothing. These materials support eco production and manufacturing. This means that they are not made from petrochemicals, and limit water use and pollution. As a little bonus, natural fibers are usually more durable.
After a long day, Mia pops her favorite meal in the oven. However, food packaging can produce a lot of waste. As a rule of thumb, the smaller the box, the more waste.
Next time she is at the grocery store, she should opt for bulk options. Food like rice, oatmeal, beans, dried fruit, and nuts can usually be purchased in bulk. She should also remember to bring her reusable cotton tote bag, instead of using the plastic or paper bags at checkout.
So what do you think of these common mistakes? Can you relate? What habits do you find the hardest to change? We would love to hear from you!